tv [untitled] March 31, 2012 3:30pm-4:00pm EDT
>> this hearing will come to order. >> thank you. >> this meeting today to hear testimony on the proposed eisenhower memorial. the opening rules the remarks are limited to the chairman and ranking member, but i ask unanimous consent to hear any statements submitted by close of business today. and hearing no objections, so ordered. i want to thank everyone that agreed to testify today, although today's witnesses will express differing opinions on the proposed design, i know that everyone, critics and advocates alike, want a memorial, a monument that truly honors president eisenhower and helps future generations of americans understand and appreciate his role in american history. to my staff who have actually started some of the drafting notes for me, i want them to know that i was alive when
president eisenhower was elected, but i was still crawling. not necessarily that old. so most of my memories actually come from books that have been read about him, which is where many of us learned about the significant contribution of president and general eisenhower. some members of congress today probably served under general eisenhower in world war ii, some served in korea when he was president a half century ago, but whether we come from personal memories or from our studies, he is to all of us a man who led our fathers and grandfathers in the crusade for europe and later a president who halted and contained soviet expansion during the cold war era. i do want to note that many lessons can be learned from his life. i just recently read a biography of president eisenhower which talked about when he was still a lieutenant in the army and had his first child and applied for and was given a housing increase supplement. only to find out through one of the technicalities he did not earn the supplement.
when he found out and his supervisors found out, they were chagrinned, he offered to pay back the $250.67. unfortunately the inspector general wanted a court-martial. fortunately for this country and the world, some of his superiors realized there was potential in this young army officer and did not have the same slavish adherence to rules that sometimes we find in bureaucracies in washington today and common sense prevailed. i say that only because we're going to go directly to a bill on the floor today which is the issue do we have slavish adherence to rules or will common sense actually prevail. there is much we can learn from this situation. i personally am excited. i have only three busts in my house. one of them is of president eisenhower that we got in abilene on one trip. today we're going to review the progress that has been made in carrying out congress' call for the eisenhower memorial that would perpetuate his memory and his contributions to the united states. today's hearing we'll hear from
susan eisenhower speaking on behalf of the family and from representatives from the eisenhower memorial commission and the federal agencies that proud the current plan. we'll hear from distinguished private citizens who have examined the proposals and want to express their views. this is perhaps a key moment in the course of this mon dumet because the groundbreaking is scheduled to be imminent and we must decide this year whether to go ahead with the current proposal or pause for future evaluations. the information and views we hear today will be invaluable to determining the coffers that we take. i am pleased to see that c. man is is televising this hearing because i like ike just like the american people like ike and i want them to hear about the memorial directly from those who are involved in shaping it. when mr. grijalva who is on his way and the ranking member of this committee appears, we'll give him the opportunity to introduce his opening remarks. in lieu of that, we will ask our first witness who is here who is representing the boswell of iowa, who i believe is a member of this commission, that is doing that, who has requested to give remarks.
we're very pleased to have you here at our committee. representative -- actually, you can't speak yet. maybe. mr. boswell, we're really happy to have you here and you're going to wait longer. >> well, thank you very much. >> no, mr. boswell, you're going to have to wait, because your colleague, representative grijalva, the ranking member, has arrived, and he'll have opening remarks and then we'll turn to you. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and my apologies to congressmen, friends. let me welcome all the guests and fellow committee members. and i want to thank everyone that's going to be involved in testifying today. it's a very unusual hearing. i can't help but feel that we're like a micromanagement of
something well outside our purview. congress has a very limited role in this dilemma, controversy. the eisenhower memorial commission was established in october of 1999 as part of the department of defense appropriation act. the memorial has been following a very deliberate process established through the commemorative works act of 1986. eight members of the eisenhower commission were appointed by congress, and we have done that part of our work. i'm not an architect. i doodle, but i don't consider it art. some people value it as art and they could be horribly mistaken, because that's the point about that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. this design has been reviewed by people with far more expertise than me. i look forward to receiving an update on the progress of the commission and better understanding the source of the controversy surrounding the
design. however, i don't think this subcommittee, the full committee, or congress, is the appropriate place to litigate a memorial design or a potential family dispute. i have two letters to submit, mr. chairman, for the record, one from frank gehry, the architect chosen to design the memorial, another letters is from david childs, the former chairman of the national capitol planning commission and the commission of fine art. again, let me thank everybody in advance for your testimony, and with that, if any remaining time with the chairman's indulgence, if i could give that time to my colleague from california, if he may have any opening statements. >> sure. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> mr. chairman, if i might. first of all, i'm really looking forward to this hearing. i agree with the ranking member that we really ought not make
design questions here. there are others that are far more capable of doing that. but it would seem to me that our purpose ought to be to make sure that this gets done, that we get this memorial under way and that it become available for the general public to memorialize and to remind us of the incredible contributions that this man made, together with millions of other americans during world war ii, before and after, in his presidency. so, we'll get on with the hearing here. art is always controversial. and certainly memorials to this day, some on the monument remain controversial. but it ought to be our task to sort out any delays that there may be and the causes of those delays and what we can do to get this project under way and completed. i yield back. >> thank you. all right, leonard, we have done our formal work here. we now turn five minutes to you for any remarks you may have.
>> well, thank you, mr. chairman, chairman bishop, and ranking member, i appreciate it. it's good to be here. i kind of felt like as this came about that probably you might appreciate having a little comment from somebody on the commission. i wasn't on the commission it first started. was appointed after it had been started and i will talk about it a little bit. i want to make two points and i want you here to know that the commission has done what congress has asked it to do, it has been engaged. and secondly, it's followed the policies and procedures set forth, so i want to say that. and they've been working on it for about ten years, as you've already made that point, i believe you're right, it's time to get it done. and we must move forward. commission received $63 million federal funding, about half's that been spent. so, it gives a little perspective there. i think what i'd like to do is just kind of give you my
testimony of what i feel about. but first off, i'm very delighted to have family here, sisters. i got to meet them not too long ago, and read about them, and i just very impressed and very appreciative of your love and your personal care for a great, great american. when i came to commission, kind of interesting, i served -- by the way, i was world war ii. i just got white hair. in case you're wondering, or korea. but i did make it to vietnam a couple times. but so much for that. but before that i spent a tour in germany. i was a young lieutenant, right out of ocs and our assignment is what we referred to as the folding app. that's where the tanks were going to come, and that was where we as members of the 8th division were going to be to meet them. we spent half of our -- for four years, not continuously, but we
spent probably half of our time out there preparing, maneuvers, training, and so on. and i got very interested in this guy named eisenhower, and i liked ike. i knew a lot about him. i went to some of the places, whether it was in belgium, or wherever it was, when i had the opportunity, i was there for four years and i continued to grow such an admiration for this great, great person. and historically him never, ever be forgotten and this memorial in his behalf is something that needs to be done and it's long overdue and it's got to be right. but coming from south central iowa and probably as the crow flies maybe not less than 200 hours from abilene and so on, when i was deployed to vietnam the first time, i went from ft. really which is very nearby, my family and i we went over to visit there from time to time and i took guests there.
and the appreciation for this gentleman that came out of that part of our country, right from the heartland, really. and read about him. i ended up being a student and then later an instructor at the commander staff college and studied the things that took place and department tactics, had a lot of classes and reviewed some of the decisions and so on that general eisenhower, supreme commander, made, leadership, read a lot of material. and then fast-forward to i'm appointed to the commission, and so i go to the first meeting and i realize that they've been operating and they've been -- the first meeting -- i may have to have an extra minute, mr. chairman, i'll tell you right now. i hope you'll consider that. but anyway, i saw the first idea and i thought, i'm not -- i'm not sure about this.
and, you know, here was this statue of a young man and the great displays of the globe looking over the country and with his troops and so on. i'm not sure. and i got to thinking about it and talking to some of my staff and different ones, and before i'd read some of the things that the designers and architect had come up with, came to this conclusion, a lot of young people in this country go to the space museum. it seems to be the highest attraction. i just all of a sudden realized what a sight, what a spot, for eisenhower to be right there where youngsters would come out of that museum and just -- natural, it seemed like they would walk across the street and see what could happen in a person's life. and i make no comparison of leonard boswell to eisenhower at all. but i was born in a tenant farmhouse and got to enjoy the american dream, and i don't have time to tell you what that means
to me. but here is an example of the american dream. who would have ever thought abilene, kansas, somebody would end up as supreme allied commander and president of this great country? and did a wonderful job in both places. and so i started really falling in love with this concept for a youngster today that come out of that space museum that go there by the thousands and go across the street and see there is an example of what can happen if you apply yourself and learn and prepare. who knows. what might happen to you in your american dream. so, i'm just very impressed with this. i think it's terribly important that we continue to talk with the family, which you're going to hear about today, and the other members, because this great moment to have a memorial to a great, great american. every now and then i am still reminded of some of his wisdom, we probably all think about the
little advice about the military industrial complex and many, many other things. but i just want you to know that i think the commission has taken it very serious the responsibility that the congress gave them, and they want to do it in the most possible, best manner they can to reflect this great american. among the greatest, no question about it. and so i will just say that i can't speak for them, but i can say this from getting acquainted with the other members, they're very serious about it, very sincere, and want to get the job done and be cognizant of the needs and satisfaction, of course, of the family, absolutely. so, i think we're ready to move on. they want to do this to the best possible way, and i just want to say to you that i feel that it's an honor and a privilege that leonard boswell, born in a
tenant farmhouse, gets to be here today and bear testimony and make comment that i am just proud to be part of the memory of dwight eisenhower. i was out to abilene just on the way back visiting our children last december, and i said to my wife, i'd like to just stop. another time. it had been a few years. and we just went down there and set on the grounds. didn't have a lot of time. and i shared with her some of the things that i probably hadn't before, back when i was instruct i instructing, and walking the grounds where ike had walked, and then reflecting on where he'd come from and what he accomplished. because he exercised and took advantage of the american dream. so, with that, i thank you, mr. chairman, for listening to me and let me run over time.
i apologize for that. but not too much, because we're talking about a great guy, and with that i'll close you and leave you to your work. you've got some great testimonies coming forward, different ones, susan and others, carl, people who i have great respect for. and thank you for your efforts to spend this time today as well. >> thank you for being here with us. don't worry about running over time. i'll take it out of ralph's time as appropriate here. appreciate it. we'd also invite you if you'd like to stay with us on the dais and participate with the rest of the hearing, you may, i recognize you have a busy schedule and it may not be acceptable to you, but that invitation is there for you regardless. >> thank you very much. i may go for a moment and come back. thank you very much. >> that will work as well, thank you. the next panel we'd like to bring up, we have i think seven seats there, seven individuals who will be able to talk to us. i'm sorry. second panel. because i don't have enough seats up there after all.
is miss susan eisenhower who will be representing the eisenhower family. miss eisenhower, if we can have you come up to the microphone. and then we'll have enough room for everyone else that happens to be there at the time. once again, any written testimony that you may have to present or wish to present will be included in the record as will be the letters that the ranking member mentioned earlier will be added without objection to the record. we appreciate it. the timing device in front of you for you and everyone else who will be speaking is obviously the green light signifies that we have it started. the yellow light signifies you have one minute left and the red is when the time is expired. we're ready to hear your oral comments, we are hoping you can limit them to the five minutes if possible. miss eisenhower, thank you very much for joining us. the time is yours. >> thank you very much, chairman bishop, ranking member grijalva, distinguished members of the committee. i'd like to first acknowledge my sister ann eisenhower who is
with me here today. let me say that the eisenhower family is grateful to congress for designating that an eisenhower memorial be built and we'd like to thank you personally for your leadership in convening this hearing. it will allow us a frank and open exchange of views. we as a family are committed to seeing that a memorial to dwight eisenhower be done in an open, democratic, and transparent way. this is what ike would have wanted. we have been gratified by the public debate that has finally begun and we're grateful to all of those who have worked on the commission and worked on the memorial, especially mr. frank gehry who has graciously interacted with members of the eisenhower family. the public debate has demonstrated that the american people overwhelmingly endorse a memorial, but they are saying it's time to go back to the drawing board and we agree. aside from all the things that have been said in the press and in the internet, we've been inundated with family members about the letters of the unmet
challenge of creating a fitting memorial. given this, mr. chairman, the eisenhower family sees no alternative to suggest two remedies, to redesign the eisenhower memorial or call upon the commission to review its staff management and stakeholder policies. first let me address myself to the design. great monuments in our country make simple statements that encapsulate the reason the memorial has been erected in the first place. george washington is remembered as the father of our country. the lincoln memorial declares that he saved the union. the monument to christopher columbus at union station says he gave to mankind a new world. one of the main flaws of the current proposal is that eisenhower's contribution to this nation is not the central theme of the design. instead of the focus on eisenhower, the liberator, the commander who led the largest military operation in the history of warfare, and eisenhower the president who
championed freedom and prosperity, the narrative relies on a romantic horatio alger notion. the the eisenhower our nation wants us to celebrate is not a dreamy boy but a real man who faced unthinkable choices, took personal responsibility and did his duty with modesty and hul humility. we've heard from many people in the last who who have objection to the 80-foot metal mesh so-called tapestrietapestries. modern tapestries have generally been found in the communist world. a number of people have said these metal skrims are an iron
curtain. if the columns also be seen as missile silos? the number of people including holocaust survivors have noted me and said they are reminiscent of internment. one survive told me that the chain link reminded her of the catches. the proposal metal curtains are to provide a screen that would partially obscure the lyndon johnson department of education. we have been concerned and others would agree that this could be seen as a symbolic affront to one of eisenhower's contemporary, majority leader of the senate during his presidency. we don't think that the design team thought of these things in advance. frankly, nor did we for a while. but the public criticism does underscore the importance of context with respect to eisenhower's life and time. in addition we are concerned the metal skrims will have upkeep.
high winds, leaves and paper could get caught in the metal traps. same could be said of interactive tech following. let me address myself briefly to process. from the early stage the eisenhower family has been calling for a memorial that's simple and one that focuses on eisenhower's achievements. my father john s.d. eisenhower, seoul heir wrote to this effect. the memorial commission has repeatedly suggested that among other thing the eisenhower family is not united in its views. i am also submitting a statement from moi brother for the record. the eisenhower family publicly intervened when we learned the design concept was evolving. we knew it was evolving. suddenly slated for fast track review and late spring ground breaking. we are concerned about a ground breaking before the money and
full funds are raised and we would oppose it if the gap is too large. public partnerships of getting the funding element of this correct is important. we now believe that a redesign will be the only way to make this memorial acceptable to the american people so that it can garner that support. going forward it will be critical the eisenhower memorial commission staff do a much better job of engaging the memorial stakeholders, the most important being the american people. it will be their memorial and express not just the nation's esteem for eisenhower's leadership but affect who we are as a people and what part of this common legacy we want to leave for future legacies. thank you very much. >> thank you for your comments. we'll have some questions from the panel. if you have questions first. >> thank you, mr. chairman.
>> in the statement you stated that the family is committed to playing its role in assuring that the process of the design reflect an open and transparent process. for the edification of myself and the committee, could you please identify where the process was not open or transparent? >> well, i think -- this would take an exusative review of the documents but i think the situation that has appeared in the paper has not been completely accurate. members of the eisenhower family from the outset have expressed concern about the scope and scale of this memorial. the original idea was actually to put a simple statute at eisenhower executive office building. this was our family preference at the beginning. deal.
to say the eisenhower family had gone along with every aspect of this process would bndt important to correct the record. i think you'll hear from others who are their own views on this, so i will leave the rest of that question to be answered by others. >> i did mention the metal scrims which are at the heart of the difficulty.
it was only until relatively recently that people began to focus on the size of these things. these metal mesh curtains are actually 80 feet high. this is the size of an eight-story office building. everyone visiting the memorial will be dwarfed by these ed if iss. i don't think he would understand it. he was well known not to have much time for modern art. as a matter of fact, my sister ann and i could tell you a funny story riding along the gettysburg country side with grandad saying he hated billboard. this would not be in keeping with any style he would really understand. >> do you or the family think there are elements of the sdpin that are, for lack of a better word, salvageable? >> we welcome the opportunity to talk to mr. gearry again.
we had a very cordial meeting in december. the time frames for everybody's schedule were so con trained it was extremely difficult to see him before this hearing. but certainly any redesign does not preclude talking to mr. gearry about being the person to do that. but i think this is -- you know, this is to be determined, i think, in the coming weeks. >> let me ask one last question. if the family has a position on the funding of this memorial, the commission's testimony private funding for the memorial would detract from private funding of other eisenhower legacy organizations. do you have a position on that? >> yes. mr. chairman, in my lengthy submission to this committee, i went into that issue a bit.
this indicates a lot of work to be done going guard and this is going to require significant cooperation and agreement. >> are there other questions from the committee? if not, we thank you. as i said, your written testimony will be in totality in the record. thank you for taking the time to join us here today. >> thank you again very much. >> now i think i have the panel for everyone else who may be there. mr. whitesell, regional director for park service and department of interior. mr. william gern, i hope i did not mispronounce that. >> just right. >> that was pure luck. assistant commissioner for office of construction programs in the park building service with general services
administration, brigadier general carl rydl director of eisenhower memorial commission. mr. howard sigermark, director of national civic art society. mr. rodney cook jr., president of the national monuments foundation. and mr. bruce cole, past chairman of the national endowment for hue mamanities. we barely got you in there. same rules apply. your written testimony will appear in its entirety in the record. we ask for oral comments to supplement that written testimony. the clock in front has a timer on it. the yellow light means you have a minute left and we can you to stay within the five minute guidelines on we can leave this room before we have to be evicted from it. so, with that, mr. weitzel, we